I’m not much of a shopper, but when you drop nearly 28 lbs in 3 months you find your jeans are suddenly saggy in all the wrong places. So last night I went shopping for new jeans. As I was flipping through racks and racks of jeans that all seemed slightly overpriced, I came across a pair that boasted, “Booty Lift Technology.” Considering I’ve spent the last several weeks with booty sag, I decided to give them a go. My booty looked the exact same as all the other pairs I tried on. And of course, as a lover of business, it got me thinking about false claims and how they affect our marketing and sales.
What is a false claim?
We’ve all heard them and seen them. The lash lengthening mascara commercials where the model is clearly wearing false lashes comes to mind, but we all know those are misrepresentative. I think the more damaging false claims are sometimes the more subtle and sneaky in the beginning.
- Overpromising on your service
- Representing an exceptional client success as your norm
- Selling one thing and delivering something slightly different
- Talking in big picture results, but not giving specifics on what the plan is to accomplish the results.
- Taking advantage of the client’s lack of understanding to misrepresent your product or service.
- Knowing the client is assuming something incorrect and not pointing it out because it would cause them not to purchase.
There are so many ways you can make false or misleading claims. But let’s simplify. If something isn’t really true, and you’re saying it, it’s a false claim.
How do false claims harm your marketing?
I know I can’t be the only skeptic out there. When I see an ad claiming extraordinary results, I immediately become skeptical. Marketing is the season of the client relationship where you are trying to establish trust and get the potential client to consider working with you. You have about 2 seconds to make your first impression online. Your website has less than 1 minute before people decide how they feel about it. If there is anything there that feels false or misleading, you’ve lost a potential lead.
How do false claims hurt your sales? If you have false claims in your sales experience, it can actually increase your sales. But don’t get excited just yet. False claims can show up in your webinars, landing pages, presentations, one on one conversations. I’ve observed that it’s easier for false claims to be accepted when there is an element of personal connection involved. You can get someone charismatic and likeable to represent and sell the brand, and they will be pretty effective selling based on false claims. But if you employ this technique, you will have a different type of fallout. Your cancellation, refund, and chargeback rates all increase. In a digital world, unhappy clients can easily slam you online.
How do false claims hurt the customer experience? While marketing and sales can both be hurt by false claims, the most detriment is caused in customer experience. At some point the customer WILL notice that the product or service sold does not accomplish what they want it to accomplish. And when that happens, they feel lied to, misled, betrayed, and often times angry. It’s more expensive to acquire a new client than it is to sell to an existing one. If you have dissatisfied clients, you’re constantly running, trying to bring in more new people than you are losing. It’s a very hard and tiring way to run a business.
Why do business owners give false claims? It’s easy to look at this and think, “False Claims! I would NEVER do that!” But it’s easier to give false claims than you might think. Even an honest business owner can fall into this trap if they are not careful. When I come across a client who is struggling with false claims, it’s usually not because they enjoy being manipulative. It usually falls into one of these 4 categories.
- The business owner believes so strongly in their product and has had one of those exceptional experiences. So they share their win as though it would be the same for everyone.
- The business owner hasn’t thoroughly done their research and doesn’t know all of their stats. So they speak from a place of emotion and what they believe to be true, rather than what is documented.
- The business owner has great intentions and truly wants to deliver the experience they are describing, but they don’t have the support and systems in place to do it.
- Messiness in processes. This one gets business owners A LOT! They haven’t created processes for all areas of their business and they just make mistakes and drop balls.
What is the better Way? If you want to keep your business free of false claims, here are some strategies to use.
- Be very clear on your deliverables. Don’t sell packages that are just focused around benefits and end results. List out everything included with a service. Break it down, and be specific. If someone knows EXACTLY what they are buying, they will either be happy with it, or they won’t buy it from the beginning because they know it’s not what they need.
- Instead of making bold claims about what your service can do, use referrals. Let potential clients hear from an actual client either through a written or video testimonial or a phone call with a current or past client.
- When you share your exceptional success stories, always say, “results are not typical.” It lets people know what is possible without representing it as the norm.
- Share levels of results. “Our average results are… and our top performers are getting …”
- Underpromise and overdeliver. It will always keep your clients happy and pleased with their experience.